Singlehood Phenomenon among Adults with ID: Psychological Theories (Attachment, Intimacy), Modern Theories (Choice/Lack of Chance) or Emotional and Social Difficulties

Prof. Hephzibah and Hagit Haguel, Bar-Ilan University, 2015

This study was completed with the assistance of the Shalem Foundation

The main purpose of the current research was to examine the reasons for the singlehood phenomenon among adults with intellectual disability (ID), with reference to psychological theories, as well as modern theories, such as 'Choice and Lack of Chance' and the 'selective/adaptation mechanism' which explains singlehood in the population with typical development (TD).
Marriage and singlehood are interpreted differently for people with intellectual disability than for the general society. The prevailing attitude towards those with mental disability regarding marriage is that they have capabilities that do not reflect the abilities of the majority of adults with intellectual disabilities. Therefore, keeping adults with intellectual disabilities alone without spouses is perceived as a normative phenomenon. The present study breaks existing myths about this this issue
This study aimed to determine if singlehood in the population with ID is caused by either: 1. difficulty with the skills required for a couple relationship and/or the ability create intimacy and/or 2. Attitude towards couple relationships and marriage.
The goal was to investigate whether there is a difference between single adults and people in a couple relationships with ID, and in their ability to create an intimate relationship and to examine why many adults with intellectual disabilities are single.
So far, various studies conducted in Israel show that people with intellectual disabilities can marry and live in harmony, and that the divorce rate among families that both parents have intellectual disabilities lower than in the population at large.
This study argues that people with intellectual disabilities are able to marry and begin a family and explains why they often do not do so until now. Assuming that intimacy improves the quality of life, the desire of parents to children with intellectual disabilities to form a relationship is understandable whether it is realized into a marriage or not. Another finding indicates for those who are in a relationship, their self-confidence and aptitude are higher.
Almost all participants in the study (99%) expressed a desire to maintain couple relationships. They all expressed a need to make a connection to a member of the opposite sex, and were aware of the contribution that a couple relationship make to the quality of life. Moreover, 74% of the participants expressed a desire to formalize the relationship and marry. In this respect there was no difference between the singles and people in a couple relationships. In addition, the 'institutionalization' of the relationship was for people with intellectual disabilities an important step towards independence and autonomy and most of them are want to get married

A video describing the research, Editor : Shay Shlomi, 2015



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